More Than An Education
Fifteen was a concept set up by Jamie Oliver in London in 2002 to offer young people who come from challenging backgrounds (many have histories of substance abuse, homelessness, violence and learning difficulties), giving them the opportunity to train and be employed in a supportive environment. Fifteen in Melbourne is the fourth restaurant to be opened by them.
They learn everything required to be an amazing chef, including teamwork, professionalism, how to combine flavours and textures, basic budgeting, great recipes, and a respect and understanding of produce.
Of the original team of 16, 9 are still involved with the program.
Some of the challenges they face are getting the young people to show up every day. Some of the recruits have major personal and family issues to deal with, and helping them with those issues is a priority at Fifteen. As the recruits continue through the program consistency becomes less of an issue.
The rewards can be fantastic for graduates, with some already having gone onto international travel, and cooking at 5 star resorts around the world. Others have moved into employment at other high class establishments around Melbourne. One graduate is working at Fifteen training the next group of young apprentices.